Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Discuss various money matters here. Loans (federal and private), scholarships, lottery winnings, or other school finance related information and queries.
flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:01 pm

bworsowicz wrote:Hello, and thank you for taking your time to do this for us. I am married with twin 1-year-olds, and my question regards health insurance. My wife is in undergrad currently, and does not work full time. My boys qualify for a state medicaid program, but I was looking at health insurance both from my wife's UG school (massive public school) and from private insurers (the law school I'm looking at doesn't offer student insurance) and it is going to be a stretch to pay for insurance for the two of us in addition to all of our other expenses under the student budget at the school I am looking at. Is this the sort of thing that the law school can make an exception or extend the budget for? I have a significant scholarship offer, so the additional debt would be a concern, but not prohibitive.


Yes, additional medical expenses and insurance are something that the financial aid office can take into consideration. You will probably have to submit a budget appeal. Write a statement to the financial aid office that your expenses are above what the standard budget allows, explain your additional costs, and provide documentation (statement from insurance providers). Most schools can adjust your budget, which will typically make you eligible for additional GradPLUS loans.

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CG614
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby CG614 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:03 pm

avacado111 wrote:if say, someone's fasfa contribution is like 100.00 would that person get a substantial need based grant? Or is it mostly in loans? What is the max gap that schools (percentage of the total COA) ususally give out in need based grants?


I want to piggyback on this question. How are need-based grants determined? What would make a school give a grant rather than just let the individual take out loans for the full cost?

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:10 pm

avacado111 wrote:if say, someone's fasfa contribution is like 100.00 would that person get a substantial need based grant? Or is it mostly in loans? What is the max gap that schools (percentage of the total COA) ususally give out in need based grants?


This is pretty dependent on schools' financial aid offices. Based on your EFC alone, you would be considered a needy candidate. Each financial aid office has their own policy for determining grants. For example, private schools will probably have you submit info about your parent's finances, and that will certainly affect your financial aid eligibility. State schools might have a preference for in-state students for both scholarships and grants. You would definitely be eligible for subsidized federal loans. I would say that the maximum percentage of tuition that a need-based grant would cover could be 100% of tuition, but I do not know of an example of a school that does that. Fordham, for example, awards a 50% tuition grant to its neediest students. Even that seems generous to me.

I imagine that most grants would not cover living expenses. Good luck, and I hope you get lots of free money!

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:19 pm

goblue1646 wrote:I haven't made any money in the past year, and haven't received any W2s. Do I need to file for a tax return? I'm not sure what to put on my FAFSA except that I don't plan on doing taxes. Does this influence the amount I could get in loans? I really know almost nothing about taxes/loans, so any info or advice you have would be amazing. Thanks!


No, you are not required to file a federal tax return unless you earn more than something like $9350 (with a few exceptions. I'm not a tax adviser, but I'm familiar with the basics). When you fill out your FAFSA, just be honest! It will ask you right away if you will be filing taxes and you can just choose "Will not file." Put zeros for any questions about earnings/taxes paid and answer the questions about assets/checking/savings accounts to the best of your ability.

This will not affect the amount you get in loans. The federal stafford/direct loans are guaranteed to you as long as you are a student and a citizen or eligible non-citizen. If your credit isn't perfect you can get a cosigner for the GradPLUS loan. The FAFSA is the only application for all of the above loans.

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:28 pm

CG614 wrote:
avacado111 wrote:if say, someone's fasfa contribution is like 100.00 would that person get a substantial need based grant? Or is it mostly in loans? What is the max gap that schools (percentage of the total COA) ususally give out in need based grants?


I want to piggyback on this question. How are need-based grants determined? What would make a school give a grant rather than just let the individual take out loans for the full cost?


Need-based grants are typically determined by a combination of your FAFSA and any institutional financial aid forms. Schools want to know how "needy" a student is. Many students are fresh from undergrad, and are technically needy (in that they haven't earned any money in the previous year) but they might have wealthy parents or $100k in their checking account. Many students have poor parents (as in, below the poverty line) or dependents for which they are the primary caregivers. These students are at higher risk for not completing an education because of money issues. A grant is a way for schools to help these students out and make education more attainable for them. Loans are a great option to help pay for school, but grants are better if you can get them.

cafloyd12
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby cafloyd12 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:44 pm

Thank you very much for answering questions.

My question is: I have a car that I'm 3 years into notes on that I would like to continue paying on while I'm in school. It looks, however, like it's going to be very difficult to continue these payments and maintain a decent living situation if I'm subject to the budget that the school I'll be attending has posted (The car really isn't that expensive, I actually just think the budget my school's FA office allows is fairly low). So, I'm wondering if FA offices will consider upping their COA for particular students in situations like this? Or are budget increases exclusively for child care, mortgages, and medical insurance?

Thanks in advance!

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:41 pm

cafloyd12 wrote:Thank you very much for answering questions.

My question is: I have a car that I'm 3 years into notes on that I would like to continue paying on while I'm in school. It looks, however, like it's going to be very difficult to continue these payments and maintain a decent living situation if I'm subject to the budget that the school I'll be attending has posted (The car really isn't that expensive, I actually just think the budget my school's FA office allows is fairly low). So, I'm wondering if FA offices will consider upping their COA for particular students in situations like this? Or are budget increases exclusively for child care, mortgages, and medical insurance?

Thanks in advance!


You're welcome! Most schools will not increase your budget to cover car loan costs or credit card debt. Usually it's only for the reasons you listed above, and sometimes computer costs.

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goblue1646
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby goblue1646 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:35 am

Thanks so much for your answer! It helps a lot.

Another really stupid question I had is--Stafford unsubsidized loans have a fixed interest rate of 6.8%...what does that mean exactly? Is that 6.8% per month or per school year...? Thanks again :)

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CG614
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby CG614 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:52 am

goblue1646 wrote:Thanks so much for your answer! It helps a lot.

Another really stupid question I had is--Stafford unsubsidized loans have a fixed interest rate of 6.8%...what does that mean exactly? Is that 6.8% per month or per school year...? Thanks again :)


That is the APR or Annual Percentage Rate.

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Holly Golightly
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby Holly Golightly » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:53 am

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Last edited by Holly Golightly on Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:10 am

Holly Golightly wrote:Thanks for helping out. Here's my problem: I have a pretty crappy credit score, although my credit has improved significantly in the last couple of years. Is there any way I'll be able to get GradPLUS loans without a co-signer? I really don't think I'll be able to get anyone to co-sign for me, and I'm constantly freaking out and afraid I won't be able to go to law school because of my crappy credit from college. (FWIW, I always pay my undergrad loans on time, although I currently have an economic hardship deferral.)


Well, that depends on your lender for your loans. They will do a credit check. The rule used to be that you can get a PLUS loan even if you have a bad credit score, so long as you don't have an adverse credit history (no more than 90 days late on any debt, no defaults, no bankruptcies or no other adverse action on any Title IV debt). Rumor has it that the banks tightened up their rules this past year. You can contact the lenders before you apply for the loan and ask them to do a credit check first, to see if you get approved. It may be good to shop around.

istorm88
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby istorm88 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:14 am

flowylime wrote:
gemma232 wrote:I have a question about the Income Based Repayment (IBR) option for student loans. Does it apply to any job that you get once you graduate? For example, worst-case scenario you graduate $200,000 in debt with a JD and get a job at McDonald's making minimum wage--would you only be responsible for paying a percentage of your minimum wage income under IBR (and not a flat monthly payment)? That is, you have $200,000 in debt, but are only responsible for paying like $20 a month because you don't make very much money at your job? What if you don't have an income (i.e., don't find a job)--does that mean you don't have to pay your loans under the IBR plan?


IBR applies to any job/income. You would be paying a percent of your adjusted gross income. There is no minimum set payment, and if you are unemployed or earning less than the federal poverty line, your monthly payments would be $0. Of course, there would still be interest accruing on the loans. Keep in mind that IBR is only an option for federal loans (Stafford/Direct, GradPLUS, Perkns) not private.


Is it possible to consolidate your private loans with the federal loans in order to receive federal benefits such as IBR? Also, is it possible to consolidate all UG student loans (federal & private) with graduate loans?

Apple Tree
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby Apple Tree » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:30 am

Thank you so much for taking questions! The total federal loan+scholarship the school offered me does not cover the whole tuition. What should I do next? Should I contact the financial aid office and apply for private loan? I got $8500 for Stafford, and $12000 for unsub'd federal loan. Is that the maximum amount I could receive for federal loans?

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Jules Winnfield
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby Jules Winnfield » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:00 pm

Hey flowly!

I'm a disenfranchised, URM applicant with little in the bank and I'm currently underemployed. I filled out my Fafsa and Need Acess forms way ahead of time in hopes of squeezing out need-based aid. my numbers were nothing to jump at (below 25th percentile) so I don't think i'm getting much, if any, merit-based aid. However, I included my parents' info and my FAFSA family's EFC is 0. Do you think i will get much need-based aid or do you think I'll get screwed over as a member of the black lower middle class?

bmontminy
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby bmontminy » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:29 pm

Jules Winnfield wrote:Hey flowly!

I'm a disenfranchised, URM applicant with little in the bank and I'm currently underemployed. I filled out my Fafsa and Need Acess forms way ahead of time in hopes of squeezing out need-based aid. my numbers were nothing to jump at (below 25th percentile) so I don't think i'm getting much, if any, merit-based aid. However, I included my parents' info and my FAFSA family's EFC is 0. Do you think i will get much need-based aid or do you think I'll get screwed over as a member of the black lower middle class?



If not flame then......just...wow :|

kareenak888
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby kareenak888 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:31 pm

bmontminy wrote:
Jules Winnfield wrote:Hey flowly!

I'm a disenfranchised, URM applicant with little in the bank and I'm currently underemployed. I filled out my Fafsa and Need Acess forms way ahead of time in hopes of squeezing out need-based aid. my numbers were nothing to jump at (below 25th percentile) so I don't think i'm getting much, if any, merit-based aid. However, I included my parents' info and my FAFSA family's EFC is 0. Do you think i will get much need-based aid or do you think I'll get screwed over as a member of the black lower middle class?



If not flame then......just...wow :|


you should get some need based aid.... don't worry :)

but it depends on your school.

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Jules Winnfield
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby Jules Winnfield » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:34 pm

bmontminy wrote:
Jules Winnfield wrote:Hey flowly!

I'm a disenfranchised, URM applicant with little in the bank and I'm currently underemployed. I filled out my Fafsa and Need Acess forms way ahead of time in hopes of squeezing out need-based aid. my numbers were nothing to jump at (below 25th percentile) so I don't think i'm getting much, if any, merit-based aid. However, I included my parents' info and my FAFSA family's EFC is 0. Do you think i will get much need-based aid or do you think I'll get screwed over as a member of the black lower middle class?



If not flame then......just...wow :|


There's definitely no need for d-bag responses. you'd be surprised how many black applicants have this kind of issue. your response just demonstrates your ignorance.

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Sauer Grapes
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby Sauer Grapes » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:36 pm

Apple Tree wrote:Thank you so much for taking questions! The total federal loan+scholarship the school offered me does not cover the whole tuition. What should I do next? Should I contact the financial aid office and apply for private loan? I got $8500 for Stafford, and $12000 for unsub'd federal loan. Is that the maximum amount I could receive for federal loans?

I got the same email this morning from the same school you are talking about. I believe 20500 is the max in federal loans you can get.

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nick637
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby nick637 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:39 pm

Is that a big kahuna burger?

bmontminy
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby bmontminy » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:44 pm

One, I will admit I read your original post wrong, and for some reason felt you were expressing a desire for merit aid despite your numbers (which rang of entitlement, but like i said, I read it wrong). That being said, you got into a school with numbers being aided by your URM status. Many people without that URM tag, who have faced exactly the same obstacles as yourself, may not be so lucky. (I am not implying you did not deserve admissions, I just know I would have loved the 'URM boost'.)

I'm a bit curious as to your usage of the term disenfranchised, however I will leave that alone before I make an assumption-error.

Despite my misread, my response is still wow....due to your jump to "getting screwed as a member of the black lower middle class."

Not trying to be a d-bag, I just simply strongly disagree with some of your statements/thought processes...enough so I was compelled to make a reply to them.

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Jules Winnfield
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby Jules Winnfield » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:27 pm

bmontminy wrote:One, I will admit I read your original post wrong, and for some reason felt you were expressing a desire for merit aid despite your numbers (which rang of entitlement, but like i said, I read it wrong). That being said, you got into a school with numbers being aided by your URM status. Many people without that URM tag, who have faced exactly the same obstacles as yourself, may not be so lucky. (I am not implying you did not deserve admissions, I just know I would have loved the 'URM boost'.)

I'm a bit curious as to your usage of the term disenfranchised, however I will leave that alone before I make an assumption-error.

Despite my misread, my response is still wow....due to your jump to "getting screwed as a member of the black lower middle class."

Not trying to be a d-bag, I just simply strongly disagree with some of your statements/thought processes...enough so I was compelled to make a reply to them.


Shiiit, that's all you had to say.

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kn6542
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby kn6542 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:39 pm

flowylime wrote:Rumor has it that the banks tightened up their rules this past year.

Where did you hear this "rumor", and why would this even make any sense?

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:45 pm

istorm88 wrote:
flowylime wrote:
gemma232 wrote:I have a question about the Income Based Repayment (IBR) option for student loans. Does it apply to any job that you get once you graduate? For example, worst-case scenario you graduate $200,000 in debt with a JD and get a job at McDonald's making minimum wage--would you only be responsible for paying a percentage of your minimum wage income under IBR (and not a flat monthly payment)? That is, you have $200,000 in debt, but are only responsible for paying like $20 a month because you don't make very much money at your job? What if you don't have an income (i.e., don't find a job)--does that mean you don't have to pay your loans under the IBR plan?


IBR applies to any job/income. You would be paying a percent of your adjusted gross income. There is no minimum set payment, and if you are unemployed or earning less than the federal poverty line, your monthly payments would be $0. Of course, there would still be interest accruing on the loans. Keep in mind that IBR is only an option for federal loans (Stafford/Direct, GradPLUS, Perkns) not private.


Is it possible to consolidate your private loans with the federal loans in order to receive federal benefits such as IBR? Also, is it possible to consolidate all UG student loans (federal & private) with graduate loans?


When you consolidate your loans, you are actually just getting one single new loan that pays off all your other loans, so what you can consolidate depends on the lender you choose for consolidation. If you choose to consolidate your federal loans into a federal loan, you cannot add in your private loans. If you choose a private lender for consolidation, they will let you consolidate both private and federal.

It is possible to consolidate undergrad loans with grad loans.

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:47 pm

Apple Tree wrote:Thank you so much for taking questions! The total federal loan+scholarship the school offered me does not cover the whole tuition. What should I do next? Should I contact the financial aid office and apply for private loan? I got $8500 for Stafford, and $12000 for unsub'd federal loan. Is that the maximum amount I could receive for federal loans?



You're welcome! $20,500 is the maximum for federal Stafford loans. You are also eligible for a federal GradPLUS loan to cover the remaining cost of attendance. You could also choose to borrow a private/alternative education loan. If you want a GradPLUS, contact the financial aid office and they will direct you to their process. If you want a private loan, contact the lender directly to apply.

flowylime
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Re: Financial aid counselor, taking questions!

Postby flowylime » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:48 pm

Jules Winnfield wrote:Hey flowly!

I'm a disenfranchised, URM applicant with little in the bank and I'm currently underemployed. I filled out my Fafsa and Need Acess forms way ahead of time in hopes of squeezing out need-based aid. my numbers were nothing to jump at (below 25th percentile) so I don't think i'm getting much, if any, merit-based aid. However, I included my parents' info and my FAFSA family's EFC is 0. Do you think i will get much need-based aid or do you think I'll get screwed over as a member of the black lower middle class?


As long as you have submitted your information, you will be considered for need-based aid. It sounds like you would be eligible for some funds based on your EFC, but the amount depends on the school. Good luck!




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